How crazy can it get? Huge gas bill for publican with no supply!

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The Dalhousie Bar, formerly a hotel, has recently been revived from closure, with Mr Brian McCombie as licensee.

But all the good work in restoring one of the town’s most characterful pubs was in danger of being undone by Scottish Gas.

On June 2 Mr McCombie asked the utility company to restore the gas supply by fitting a new meter to supply heating and hot water.

This did not happen.

And despite numerous calls and an official complaint, the status remained very much quo. But the worst was yet to come.

Mr McCombie started to receive invoices for gas - which he had not used because he couldn’t. He told us: “This has now progressed to having a debt collection agency chasing me for money!”

The sum claimed is £1,372.19.

The nearest to a silver lining was when Mr McCombie ‘phoned the agency, which has now stopped its constant barrage of telephone calls.

A clearly exasperated Mr McCombie said: “They tell me the meter is in the kitchen. But we don’t have a kitchen! There hasn’t been a kitchen here since the building was a hotel, 30 or 40 years ago!”

In order to maintain a degree of warmth for customers he has purchased a powerful bottled gas heater which costs almost £80 a week to run.

But Mr McCombie added: “With days getting colder, it has now come to the stage that I am probably going to have to close the business until this is resolved, leaving three local staff unemployed.” And to add an element of farce to the chaos, Mr McCombie revealed: “I also have been getting invoices from British Gas for electricity although I don’t get electricity from them. The latest invoice was for £5,249.98.”

We put Mr McCombie’s plight to British Gas, who, in fairness, acted swiftly if belatedly.

A British Gas Business spokesperson said, “We should have acted immediately when Mr McCombie said there wasn’t a meter in his pub.

“Unfortunately our records incorrectly showed that there was a meter at Mr McCombie’s pub and there were unacceptable delays to put this right. We’ve now contacted Mr McCombie to apologise and arranged for the meter to be installed as soon as possible.”

And Mr McCombie’s final comment to the Brechiner was: “I don’t know what you said to them but I’ve had four ‘phone calls in quick succession. It looks like things are going to be sorted at last.”